Vent was first mentioned in historical documents in 1241. Shepherds from today's South Tyrol on their way to the north were the first permanent settlers. Already in the 18th century, the first real tourists came to admire the fascinating glacier lakes.
Ötzi - The Iceman
On 19 September 1991 a mummified corpse was found by chance in the ice of the Similaun glacier, on the way down from Fineilspitze peak (3,514m) to Tisenjoch saddleback (3,280m). The dead man carried a bow made from yew, a coated quiver filled with 14 arrows, instruments made of bone, arrowheads made from antlers of red deer and wrapped in bast, a flint knife with a flint blade, copper arrows and a back carrier.
Yet we know that Ötzi was not the first to dare to cross the Alps. Archaeological discoveries near Vent prove that this region was the hunting ground for foragers in the Mesolithic period as early as 8,000 BC. Today the Iceman is exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Bolzano.
Hohler Stein and stoneage hunting base
After the finding of the Iceman, Dr. Leitner of the University of Innsbruck made further investigations. He proved the existence of more Stone Age hunting bases in the Ötztal valley, e.g. at the Hohler Stein mountain in Niedertal/Vent which is at an altitude of 2,050m and only 10km (beeline) from the place where the Iceman was found. A wide range of archeological findings within this area prove the existence of early settlements in the Rofental Valley, dating back to 7600 B.C.
The outdoor excavation site is located on a small natural terrace at 1,950m above sea level, where Niedertal valley and Rofental valley meet. In the past, these two valleys formed the natural border line of the huge hunting areas reaching up to the mighty peaks of the main Alpine ridge. Already around 2000 B.C. (early Bronze Age) the upper part of the valley was used as grazing area for sheep and goats. Excavations and reconstructions presented by University of Innsbruck, Institute of Prehistory and Early History 1995-2003.
In the past, sheep farming and sheep breeding was of great importance in the Ötztal valley as the sheep wool was a precious good. The South Tyrolean farmers in vicinity to the Ötztal Valley only had a few Alpine pastures. Therefore, they decided to drive their flocks of sheep to the neighboring "Niedertal-Ötztal" high Alpine pasturelands during the summer month.
Already in 1415 a contract was made between the farmers of Vent and Schnals, guaranteeing the right of taking South Tyrol's sheep to the high Alpine pastures of the upper Ötztal Valley from mid-June to mid-September.
1502: the church and the graveyard were consecrated. 1701: Matthäus Gerstgrasser became the first pastoral assistant. 1802: an avalanche destroyed the church, only the tower and the tabernacle remained. 1862: the baroque-style church was consecrated and Vent became a parish. The high altar probably comes from a former church in Karthaus in Schnalstal valley (statues, St. Bruno, St. Benedict).
Next to the high altar you find John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, an altar dedicated to the Virgin Mary with a statue of the Virgin made by the Tirolean Andreas Kölle. 1995/1996: renovation of the church's interior and of the facade. In 1999 the church received a new main altar and a lectern. Josef Singer, the priest of Sölden, is also responsible for the parish of Vent.
Glacier Priest Franz Senn (1831 - 1884)
With the foundation of the Austrian Alpine Club a new chapter of alpinism and mountaineering started in 1862. The glacier priest Franz Senn, who was the co-founder of the German Alpine Club (1869) and curate in Vent, promoted alpinism by laying out trails and paths and building mountain shelters. He wanted to get the people interested in mountaineering and also to improve the economic situation of the inhabitants of the valleys. Franz Senn was a passionate mountaineer and conquered numerous 3,000m-high summits of the Ötztal Alps.